Sunday, January 2, 2011

Total Elimination Diet

I have mentioned to some friends and family that we suspected some food sensitivities with Miles awhile ago, and when I eliminated wheat and soy from my diet in mid-November, Miles went from always fussy to smiling and peaceful. He stopped waking up crying, and started being more content in general. What a change! He was like a new baby!

This decision was based on a cursory glance at the Total Elimination Diet (TED) developed by Dr. William Crook, which is recommended by Dr. Sears and his wife, who is a lactation consultant, for colicky and fussy breastfed babies. I thought, "Ok, wheat and soy, and I already can't eat cow dairy....we're fine. I can work around those." But we're not fine. At 4 1/2 months now, Miles is much better but still has some symptoms of allergies and/or sensitivities, and they're so random that we can't blame any one food for sure.

For example, at Thanksgiving (the vegetarian one which included gluten-, wheat-, and dairy-free options for everyone), I ate a variety of nuts in just about everything, eggs in 2 dishes, and spelt in 2 dishes and cornmeal in one. Miles didn't seem to have any reactions the next day or the following week...that we know of. Then one day I ate a handful of almonds for a snack, and he was extra fussy that evening. I had started drinking almond milk instead of soymilk...but if almonds are an issue, then that's a problem. One day I ate quiche and drank almond milk eggnog (homemade, of course), and he had no reactions, but was fussy several days later. Was it a delayed reaction to the eggs (which I've found is common)? Was it the almond milk? Miles didn't react to the spelt rolls at Thanksgiving, so I started baking with Spelt at Christmas, and he just so happens to have been fussy ever since then. Maybe this more digestible ancient wheat isn't ok for him after all, or maybe only a little every few days is all right. Some foods will bother a baby right away, I discovered, and others take a few days. So was it the curry last night or the eggs a few days ago making him extra fussy today? How can I know for sure?

I've come to the conclusion that in order to really peg those problem foods and free me up to eat healthfully without fear of hurting the baby, I should take my diet (and therefore my baby's), more seriously and begin the TED journey. The TED is very useful for discovering food allergies and sensitivities, as well as giving a damaged digestive system a chance to heal. Allergies and sensitivities are actually quite rare in babies, so it's really a sort of last resort for us.

Yes, this will be difficult and limiting, but it will also be beneficial, useful...and fun. What? Fun?! Yes! If you know me, you know I love food, and love getting creative with it. Some people might find such a diet boring, but I plan to use this opportunity to get creative and focus on being thankful for the food we have. We are so blessed to have within our reach a variety of healthy food. We have so many options and the means to procure them.

To start the TED, here is a list of "safe foods" (nearly hypoallergenic) I can start off with for the first week or so:

Rice (brown rice, rice milk, rice pasta, rice cereal)
Turkey & lamb (range-fed only)
Potatoes & sweet potatoes (baked or boiled)
Pears (whole, cooked, and diluted juice)
Green & yellow squash

There's something from each food group, and good nutrients so that even a couple months of this diet won't affect milk supply. Once a week or so goes by, long enough for disruptive foods to clear out of the baby's system, I'll be slowly adding foods back in one at a time, starting with the least-allergenic foods.

Let's get started!

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